My Winter Reading List

As I am sure is the case with many other gardeners, when I’m not gardening, I’m thinking about gardening or designing my next space!  That’s why winter is the perfect time to catch up on books focused on gardening and design. As I wrap up my fall clean-up activities and put my garden to bed, I look forward to snuggling up in my comfy chair by the fire and reading three books which have outstanding reviews:

Paradise in Plain Sight explains the life lessons realized when Zen priest Karen Maezen Miller moved into a house with a hundred-year-old Japanese garden. Karen invites readers into this new found paradise to share the wisdom of our natural world. She believes rocks convey faith, ponds preach stillness, flowers give love, and leaves express the effortless ease of letting go. The book teaches the concepts of fearlessness, forgiveness, presence, acceptance, and contentment. Miller gathers inspiration from the ground beneath her feet to remind us that paradise is always present and in plain sight. 

I particularly liked one reader’s review which said Karen’s book encourages us to put one foot in front of the other and continue on our path while paying attention to the work at hand like weeding out unnecessary or unhealthy distractions. I can’t wait to dive into this book’s 160+ pages.

Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West is a call to action dedicated to the idea of a new nature—a hybrid of both the wild and the cultivated—that can flourish through a practical implementation.  This book acknowledges that fact that with industrialization and urban sprawl, we have driven nature out of our neighborhoods and cities and reduced the amount of open space.  The authors suggest we can invite it back by designing landscapes that look and function more like they do in the wild: robust, diverse, and visually harmonious. I look forward to reading this gem and implementing some of these concepts in my garden.

Chanticleer, a pleasure garden near my home, has been called the most romantic, imaginative, and exciting public garden in America. The Art of Gardening provides techniques specific to different conditions and plant palettes, describes how to use hardscape materials in a fresh way, and demonstrates how Chanticleer’s horticulturalists achieve the perfect union between plant and site. The review promises that readers will be able to bring the special magic that pervades this most artful of gardens into our home landscape.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the three books above represent the beginning of my reading list.  For example, this Sunday December 4, I’m attending the Hardy Plant Society’s annual meeting where well-known author Marta McDowell will discuss her latest book, All the President’s Gardens, Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses-How the White House Grounds Have Grown With America, with refreshments and a book signing to follow.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist the opportunity to purchase a signed copy!

In January, HPS will co-host a lecture by author and photographer Ken Druse, considered the “guru of natural gardening” by the New York Times.  Ken’s latest book, published in 2015, is The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change.  Probably another book I can’t live without, especially since I am a self-proclaimed shade gardener!  In his lecture Ken is expected to share new ways of looking at all aspects of the gardening process, including topics such as designing your garden, choosing and planting trees, and discovering the vast array of flowers and foliage – all within the trials of a warming planet, shrinking resources, and new weather patterns. Ken says, “The garden of the future will be in the shade.” I’m with him there. 

As you can see, I have some reading to do, so I’d better be on my way so I can finish that fall clean up.  My fireside leather chair, reading glasses and stack of books are calling me.

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